Nature provides plenty of opportunity for reflection.
Outside the window of my husbands office is the flower bed I planted two years ago when we moved into our house. It is full to overflowing with Texas native plants but resembles the haphazard, filled to overflowing style of an English cottage garden. In my opinion, aside from the weeds, its just right.
Recently, as an act of faith in myself to pursue both art and writing (writing is art as well of course), I bought a slightly beat up desk and placed it under the tiny window in our garage office. I can look out said window and see pink turkscap bobbing in the breeze or dripping with rain. A power line drapes low to the corner of our house and a hummingbird sits, as I write, her tiny frame ever ready to swoop down and feast on the Texas Lilac tree that is heavy laden with purple, conical flowers. A tiny yellow and black caterpillar huddles, unmoving under the leaves of the turks cap. Just inches from my window, he would remain unseen if I were to observe the leaf from any other angle. The tallest turkscap branch has three perfectly pink, edible blossoms. Just under the blossoms, tight buds perch, ready to take their place of glory when the other blooms have fallen.
I think about those flowers. And about those little buds. And that tiny hidden caterpillar. Soft rain begins to fall and I feel I am in a thin place. A place where God seems to eek out of the very substance of the trees, the flowers, the birds, the molecules of rain. Of course God is in those things always. But I don’t always see or notice him there. Elisabeth Elliott encourages, in a sermon entitled Keep a Quiet Heart, that we cultivate silence. I have three boys four and under. Silence by myself is as rare and precious as gold. But I am learning that I have to fight for it. And I mustn’t apologize for needing it. You know how it is. We moms are so good at feeling guilty for having needs. So we push through our own warning signs and give without finding ways to be refilled and suddenly we have nothing left to give and we crater. Then we feel more guilty about whatever fallout resulted from our cratering.
I’m learning to ask if I can run errands by myself for a couple of hours when Hank is home. I’m learning to come out to my desk and let the words flow. As they flow, I find out what I think about things. It slows me down and I learn to see as if for the first time.
I make my way to water at whatever chance I get and watch the river meander past. The river, the trees, nature. All are a thin place where I can hear God clearly. So I fight the temptation to be productive when I am alone. Surely it would be easier to get my errands done without kids and I do try to accomplish tasks that make me almost break out in hives at the thought of taking three children. But I also save some time to get alone, in the silence, and listen. Call it meditation or prayer or simply alone time. It doesn’t take very long. God is faithful with the moments we give him.
I leave feeling a bit more stable and grounded. A bit less harried and frantic. A lot less likely to crater.I leave feeling closer to God and filled with gratitude that he sees me and knows me and cares so deeply for me that he created whimsical things like turkscap and steadying things like trees and rives. I leave feeling wooed by his love and attention. Feeling small and big at the same time. Big enough to face whatever comes and small enough to fit in the palm of His hand.